Cancer Survivors & Lawmakers Highlight Budget Proposals Focused on Cancer Prevention, Early Detection, Medical Debt & Paid Leave

Advocates weigh in on issues, breast cancer survivor Angela Padmore shares her experience with medical debt

March 27, 2024

ALBANY, NY – MARCH 27, 2024 – Earlier today, elected officials stood alongside cancer survivors, patient advocates and public health leaders to highlight opportunities in the 2024-25 FY budget aimed at helping more New Yorkers prevent cancer, detect it early and alleviate its burden on families. Advocates with and allies of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) utilized the forum to outline the active policy proposals that will benefit New Yorkers across the cancer continuum.

ACS CAN staff and volunteers were joined by Senator Roxanne Persaud and Assemblymembers Linda Rosenthal and Michaelle Solages. The speakers, which included theBudget priority presser 3.27.24 elected officials as well as representatives from the NYS Paid Medical Leave coalition and the Community Service Society of New York, outlined a comprehensive approach to cancer control and prevention in New York and called on lawmakers to support budgetary measures to restore funding for the Cancer Services Program and the Tobacco Control Program, expand access to the state’s paid leave program and reduce the impact of medical debt.

“Everyone should have a fair and just opportunity to prevent, detect, treat and survive cancer. While doctors and scientists are doing everything that they can to save lives from cancer, they cannot do it without the help of state leaders. Every day that we delay adopting these policies, we risk that more New Yorkers will die from cancer,” said Marcia Earle, lead volunteer for ACS CAN in New York.

Senator Persaud and Assemblymember Rosenthal discussed the importance of cancer prevention and early detection and how the Tobacco Control and Cancer Services Programs are critical to those efforts. Advocates are asking for lawmakers to restore funding to the programs, which, respectively, help New Yorkers access resources to help them quit their tobacco use—or refrain from uptake—as well as lifesaving breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screenings.

Attendees also heard from Angela Padmore, a breast cancer survivor and ACS CAN volunteer, who joined to share about her experience with medical debt.

“When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I vowed that I would fight, do everything in my power to get to the other side of this disease. Unfortunately, since that day that I vowed to fight my cancer with everything I had, I have had a dark cloud hanging over me, following me,” said Padmore. “From my first appointment, I have been billed at a rate with which I cannot keep up. When I was diagnosed, I received my health insurance through my employer by a plan that did not cover large amounts of my out-of-pocket expenses. And so, with the start of my experience with cancer, also began my journey with medical debt, which has not let up and only gotten harder to navigate.”

Earlier this month, the American Cancer Society published a new study, which found that medical debt was associated with more days of poor physical and mental health, more years of life lost and higher mortality rates for all-cause and leading causes of death at the county level in the United States. 

Additionally, a recent survey from ACS CAN found that 73% of cancer patients and survivors reported concern over their ability to pay current or future costs of their care, and 70% noted their worry about incurring medical debt due to their cancer treatment.

“This groundbreaking research by ACS CAN reveals that roughly half of cancer survivors have cancer-related medical debt," said Elisabeth Benjamin, VP of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York and a member of the #EndMedicalDebt campaign. "All New Yorkers should be able to access a fair Hospital Financial Assistance program without fear of financial and physical ruin. It's time for our state leaders to pass real medical debt reform." 

Assemblymember Solages lent her voice to the issue of paid medical leave, highlighting the avenues through which her colleagues can expand the state’s existing programs.

A representative from the New York State Paid Medical Leave coalition, Blue Carreker, contributed with the following, “Now is not the time for slight adjustments. After forty years with no adjustments, and with the experiences of thirteen other states, it is time for New York to create a robust and integrated Paid Medical Leave program that can be used by all workers in our state to care for themselves and their loved ones. This means not simply a flat raise in the benefit cap with job protection and health insurance. It must mean progressive wage replacement, intermittent leave, and a reasonable waiting period. Those facing cancer and any other serious medical illness deserve no less.”

To learn more about ACS CAN’s hopes for the New York State 2024-25 FY budget, visit


About ACS CAN 

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) advocates for evidence-based public policies to reduce the cancer burden for everyone.  As the American Cancer Society’s nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy affiliate, ACS CAN is making cancer a top priority for public officials and candidates at the federal, state, and local levels. By engaging advocates across the country to make their voices heard, ACS CAN influences legislative and regulatory solutions that will end cancer as we know it. 


Media Contacts

Casey O'Neill
Sr. Regional Media Advocacy Manager